7 Ways to Discover the Best YouTube Keywords for Your Channel

Good YouTube keywords are hard to find, especially ones that grow your channel. Here are 7 tips to discover the right phrases, get more views, and rank higher on YouTube.


When you're uploading videos to YouTube, do you tend to skip keyword research?

Don't worry: Answering yes doesn't mean your channel is doomed. In fact, admitting you need better YouTube keywords is a revelation. Now you can enhance your content with phrases people are searching for on YouTube.

You've probably noticed that single-word searches don't yield great results. Viewers get a broad range of videos that don't answer their questions, and that...sucks. That's why people tend to use phrases, or long-tail keywords, in their queries.

If I have a flat tire, my instinct is to search “how to fix a flat tire.”

If I want to learn to play the piano, I might search “beginner's guide to playing the piano.”

If my toilet is blocked...well, you get the picture.

How to Do Keyword Research for YouTube

Before we dive into the details, here are three fundamentals of YouTube keywords:

  1. A keyword represents the first thing that pops into a viewer's mind.
  2. A keyword is usually part of a key phrase – a group of three or four words.
  3. Think like a human, not a robot, to discover the best keywords.

And now, here are seven ways to find the right keywords and rank higher on YouTube.

1. Use the YouTube Search Bar to Find Keywords

Have you noticed that the YouTube search bar autocompletes every query? You could type the phrase "how to cook" – a basic search – and YouTube will share a list of relevant searches to explore.

Pay attention to these suggestions. If YouTube is recommending them, it's because viewers are searching for them right now. You can use these "freebies" to kick off your research.

Want to make the suggestions more targeted for your niche? Make sure you're using the correct verbs. We used "cook" in the example above, which works well for a culinary channel. But there are plenty of words you can use – grow (gardening), build (DIY, construction), install (technology, construction), increase (works for almost anything) – to get specific suggestions.

2. Play the YouTube Search Bar Alphabet Game

Another thing you can try is the alphabet search game. Once you have a keyword or phrase you're comfortable with, simply add one letter to it. Then go through the entire alphabet with this process.

For example, you would type “how to make slime" plus the letter "A." Then "how to make slime" plus the letter "B," and continue like that. It's incredible how many long-tail keywords you can find with this hack.

3. Use Keywords That Grew Smaller YouTube Channels

You may think you have nothing to learn from a channel with 50 subscribers, but you actually do! We've seen small creators get thousands of views just by using the right keywords. If those keywords are working for them, imagine what they could do for you.

Here's how to find those useful phrases:

  1. Download vidIQ. Our tool shows the subscriber count of channels appearing in YouTube search, which saves you time.
  2. Next, perform a YouTube search for something that relates to your video idea.
  3. Scan the search results for videos with a) thousands of views that b) are from channels with fewer than 1,000 subscribers.

Need an example? We used the phrase "potty train a puppy" and found a video with 6,700 views from a channel with 231 subscribers. As you can see, Puppy Stories earned thousands of views with the phrase "potty train a puppy."

Try to find a similar views-to-subscribers ratio within your niche. It provides an excellent starting point for your keyword research.

But don't forget to analyze the video's full title. This isn't a potty training video for any dog; it's for pit bull puppies. So a dog-training channel might incorporate extra keywords, such as "pit bull puppy."

4. Find the LSI Keywords Associated With Your Video

Have you heard of LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords? They help get your channel discovered on Google and are worth exploring.

So how do these special keywords work?

Do a Google search and scroll to the bottom of the first results page. You'll see lots of keywords related to your original search. These are your LSI keywords – another opportunity to bolster your channel's discoverability.

If you produce quality videos (with strong keywords), Google will recommend your content at the top of search pages. Imagine all of that free traffic going straight to your videos!

5. Look for Trending Keywords That Have (or Haven't) Reached YouTube

Did you know there are thousands of creators trying to find the right keywords on YouTube? Unfortunately, that's why some phrases are too competitive. “How to unblock a toilet” belongs to hundreds of thousands of videos across YouTube.

That's why you need to find trending keywords and stand out among the masses.

There are plenty of ways to find trending topics in general. You can use something like Google Trends to see what's trending in your region. Then head to YouTube to see if it's trending there, too (It probably is).

Or better yet, track some phrases relevant to your channel and get notified when they start trending. This is easy to do with a trend alert tool, like the one below.

To start tracking YouTube trends, simply:

  1. Download vidIQ.
  2. Go to your channel's YouTube Studio.
  3. Go to the left navigation menu, scroll down, and click Trend Alerts.
  4. Click Create New Alert in the menu that appears.
  5. Add some information about the trend you want to track: the alert's name, its associated keywords, view-per-hour threshold, how often you want to be emailed, and more.

This is one of the best keyword tools for YouTube. When you download the free version of vidIQ, you can set one trend alert for your channel. Give it a try!

6. Use the Best Keyword Explorer for YouTube

Which keywords are easy to target on YouTube? Which ones are so competitive that you shouldn't bother using them?

There's only one way to find out, and that's by discovering the search volume of any phrase on YouTube. If viewers are searching a keyword 300,000 times per month, that's fantastic. It means there are enough clicks to target for your next video. But what if that term is too competitive for a small or medium-sized channel? You're better off finding a keyword with lower volume and less competition.

Using vidIQ's keyword research tool, you can see how "Squid Game" by itself is highly competitive. But using the phrase "Squid Game reaction" only incurs a medium level of competition.

Want to use the tool above? Download vidIQ and select a Pro plan ($7.50/month) to get full access.

7. Get Guidance from a YouTube Keyword Analysis Tool

Imagine stumbling upon a keyword that comes with a "score."

Ideally, this rating ranges from 0 to 100. And the higher the score, the juicier that keyword is for your YouTube channel.

Luckily, such a tool does exist. When you download the free version of vidIQ, you'll see a keyword score for every video on YouTube search pages.

In the example above, a certain search term – Huffy Spiderman bike assembly – has low competition and a healthy search volume. If you like to research keywords via YouTube search, this tool is tremendously helpful.

How to Add Keywords to a YouTube Video

Once you find the right keywords, how do you attach them to your videos?

You can start by adding relevant keywords to...

  • Your video title.
  • Your video description.
  • Your video tags.
  • Your video chapters.
  • Your video's audio, as YouTube might evaluate this too. But that's easy enough if you're introducing the video correctly.

In addition to these tips, another way to discover YouTube keywords is to brainstorm video ideas. Here are seven ways to think up ideas you can start researching keywords for today.